An Examination of the Relationship Between Cultural Adjustment, Work Locus of Control and Organisational Commitment in Fly-In Fly-Out Workers in Australia

Researcher Alexei Behr
Supervisor Graeme Ditchburn
Date November 2012

The FIFO workforce in Australian mining is expanding and is expected to double in the next three to five years. With the large number of workers moving away from traditional working arrangements to FIFO it’s vitally important to investigate how these workers are adjusting to the change and how this adjustment is related to other factors. While previous research on other work types has found that the level of cultural adjustment experienced by a worker is positively related to both internal locus of control and commitment to the organization no research has been conducted to investigate if any relationship exists in the FIFO work force. This study aims to fill this gap in the research by surveying FIFO workers from a variety of jobs and mine sites as well as creating a scale that can be used to measure cultural adjustment of FIFO workers for future research.

A cross–sectional study of 229 Australian–based FIFO workers was conducted using anonymous self-report surveys. These surveys examined organizational commitment, cultural adjustment and worker locus of control, taking into account age, time in the current position and time in a FIFO role. As a cultural adjustment scale has never been developed for the FIFO population this was developed for this study and analysed to determine its reliability and if cultural adjustment appears to be multi-faceted or a single construct.

Analysis of the cultural adjustment scale found that it measures three facets of adjustment; social adjustment, work adjustment and general adjustment, with most workers relatively well adjusted to all three of these facets. This study also found that cultural adjustment had a positive relationship with both affective commitment and an internal locus of control and that an internal locus of control appeared to moderate the relationship between cultural adjustment and affective commitment. Surprisingly when cultural adjustment was broken down into its three components work adjustment had no relationship to commitment but both social adjustment and general adjustment did, indicating that adjustment to the work they are required to complete has little influence on how committed an employee will be to their FIFO role.

This study explored areas that hadn’t been researched before in the FIFO workforce and found that it’s very similar to the expatriate workforce in what factors are related to cultural adjustment. This filled a large hole in the current research and provides a starting point for future research into cultural adjustment of FIFO workers, an important area if FIFO work is going to be successful for companies, workers and their families. By understanding cultural adjustment and how it is related to commitment the employee turnover rate could be reduced and employee happiness in their role could be improved.